Tip On Propagating Begonias From Cuttings
Begonia are perennials that thrive in moist soil conditions. They prefer full sun but they will tolerate partial shade. Their foliage is a light green with white stripes and spots. A few species have pink or purple flowers and some even bloom in shades other than their natural color. Some species can reach heights of 8 feet tall!
The genus Begonia includes several different types of plants. There are many varieties, each with its own characteristics and uses. For example there are two species of Begonia that produce seeds: the common and the angel wing. These two species differ in the way they reproduce:
Common begonias (Benthia spp.) produce seeds when they mature. Angel wings (Angelus spp.) do not produce seeds.
Both species can be grown from seed. However, it takes longer to germinate the seeds produced by the common species than those produced by the angel wing type. The difference between these two types of begonias is due to differences in their genetic make up which makes them susceptible to certain diseases and pests. These genetic factors do not change with each new crop of seeds.
The common begonia is more susceptible to viruses than the angel wing type, so common begonias grown from seed can contain these viruses. Also, begonias grown from common begonia seeds are more prone to disease and pest problems. The angel wing type is generally stronger and hardier as it produces less virus-prone seed. It is for this reason that begonias are sometimes referred to as “disease plants.”
Tip On Propagating Begonias From Cuttings
While begonias are beautiful houseplants, there are some that can be grown outdoors in the summer. If you decide you want to grow begonias in your garden, it is important that you start with disease-free begonia cuttings. This will prevent the spread of disease and pests that can quickly destroy an entire garden. Begonia cuttings should be collected in the spring, just as soon as the begonias begin to grow again.
Gently dig up a healthy begonia from your garden (or buy one from a local garden shop). Cut off a couple of healthy leaves and the stem/stalk right below where the leaves begin. The bottom third of the stem should be free of any roots. This is what will be planted.
Fill three-inch pots with a well-draining potting soil and place them in a tray. Water the pots until the soil is moist, but not soggy. Allow the soil to drain for about an hour.
Cut the leaves from your begonia cuttings and discard the stems. Dip the cut end of each cutting in rooting hormone. If you do not have any rooting hormone, you can substitute with a mixture of one part powdered milk and one part water.
Make a small hole in the center of each pot with your finger or a stick. Place each cutting in its own hole. Firm the soil around the cuttings and water again. Place the tray in a plastic bag to retain moisture and heat. Place the tray in a warm location (70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit is best).
Open the bag daily to allow excess moisture to escape and close it again.
Watch for new growth in about a month. Once new growth is noticed, stop opening the bag. New begonias can be transplanted into individual pots after two months.
A Little About Begonia Propagation From Cuttings
Propagating begonias from cuttings is an easy process that involves taking a healthy stem cutting from a mature begonia plant. The cutting is then prepared and planted into potting soil in order to grow roots. Take the cutting from a healthy, disease-free begonia plant in the early spring. Cut off a stem that has at least two or three leaf nodes on it. Place the stem in a glass of water so that all parts of the stem are covered by the water.
Place the glass in a well-lit area such as a window and make sure the water doesn’t evaporate. Once roots start to develop, which should happen within two or three weeks, the stem cutting can be planted in potting soil. Cuttings can also be started in a biodegradable egg carton filled with potting soil. The cuttings should be planted in individual cups after two or three sets of leaves have developed.
Begonia Cuttings in Water
Rooting hormones are not necessary when propagating begonias from cuttings because the stems are thin and delicate anyway. If you still want to use a rooting hormone, there are several options available. One of the most common is a product called “jungle,” which is a powder that comes in a tiny tub. The powder can also be made at home by boiling water and adding a few drops of latex paint. Stir the mixture with the cutting so that every part gets coated.
Prepare the cutting by removing the leaves from the bottom one-inch of stem. Cut off any flowers or buds from the stem, but don’t damage the rest of the stem. Dust the stem with the rooting hormone and place it in a glass filled with moist perlite, vermiculite or sand. These are all so called “perlita” mixes that can be bought from a lawn and garden store. Alternatively, you can use water in a clear glass.
Place the cuttings in a plastic bag to retain the moisture. Place the bag in a warm location that receives bright, indirect sunlight.
Check for roots after two or three weeks. Once you see roots, remove the cutting from the glass and place it in potting soil. Make sure there is good drainage and keep the soil moist. Transplant the begonia after a month.
More About Begonias
The common name for Begonia is taken from Michel Begon, a 18th-century French explorer. He was given these plants by Native Americans while he was exploring what is now known as Alabama. His nickname was “Beguin,” which means “little beggar.”
Begonias bloom nearly all year long in Florida but will bloom longer in warmer climates. Their thick leaves and brightly colored flowers make them a popular houseplant.
There are more than 1,000 species of begonias and they come in a wide range of sizes, shapes and colors. Some begonias can be as small as a thumbnail while others grow to be over 6 feet tall. Their flowers come in blue, red, yellow and even white.
Most begonias grow from a rhizome, which is a thickened stem that grows under the ground. These are easy to grow from cuttings as long as they are taken from healthy plants.
Begonias need a well-draining soil and plenty of sunlight. They do well in hanging baskets because their long stems aren’t weighed down by the soil.
Sources & references used in this article:
Mass Propagation of Begonia × hiemalis Plantlets by Shake Culture by S Takayama, M Misawa – Plant and Cell Physiology, 1981 – academic.oup.com
Mass propagation of plants through shake-and bioreactor-culture techniques by S Takayama – High-Tech and Micropropagation I, 1991 – Springer
Propagation of eight cultiv ars of Rhododendron in vitro using agar-solidified and liquid media and direct rooting of shoots in vivo by GC Douglas – Scientia Horticulturae, 1984 – Elsevier
Propagation by Cuttings, Layering and Division by D Relf, EC Ball – 2009 – vtechworks.lib.vt.edu
7 Media for Cutting Propagation by PS Holloway – Plant Propagation Concepts and Laboratory …, 2008 – books.google.com
The influence of vermicompost water extracts on growth of plants propagated by cuttings by N Arancon, JV Cleave, R Hamasaki… – Journal of Plant …, 2020 – Taylor & Francis